Brazil probe pits investigators against long-protected elite
By Caroline Stauffer
CURITIBA, Brazil, June 26 (Reuters) - In a nation where the elite have enjoyed relative impunity, a new generation of police and prosecutors in Brazil are bent on using the country's largest-ever corruption investigation to send the message that no one is above the law.
They have displayed in a local museum works of art seized in arrests in connection with alleged bribery at state-run oil firm Petrobras. They have also paraded lobbyists and chief executives in handcuffs before TV cameras.
And they gave the moniker Operation 'Erga Omnes,' Latin for 'For everyone' to a raid that jailed one of the country's most powerful corporate scions, CEO Marcelo Odebrecht.
Earlier this week they publicized a hand-written note Odebrecht wrote from jail.
Police said the arrests have come as a "shock" to the wealthy and powerful suspects.
"These people thought the police, and justice, would never reach them," Federal Police agent Erika Marena told Reuters this week in her office in Curitiba, the epicenter of the Petrobras investigation.
Marena said it has been particularly surprising to see some detainees struggle with basic rituals like shaving or laundry, presumably because they had "a group of people who took care of everything for them."
"There are people who do not know how to wash their own clothes, things that are basic for anyone but not for someone who lived in this scale of luxury," she said. Continuación...